The Francistown immigration office stamp went missing recently.
This touched off fears that it had been stolen by corrupt officers who wanted to use it after hours because there was so much business it could not be completed in an eight hour shift.
Months of undercover investigations by the country’s police and intelligence officers have confirmed the fears. The investigation has uncovered widespread immigration corruption fuelled by the influx of Zimbabwean illegal immigrants.
It revealed how scores of Francistown immigration officers are making a roaring trade, taking bribes to extend days and normalize passports of illegal immigrants mostly from Zimbabwe.
A number of Senior immigration officers, among them the Francistown Deputy District Immigration officer were this week arrested on suspicion of receiving bribes and dirty money to process resident permits and increase days for immigrants.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, Segakweng Seisa, on Tuesday paid a surprise visit to the Francistown immigration office following the reports of immigration corruption.
Tsiane, however, evaded the issue: “I can only say that we are looking to overhaul all our operations in the ministry,” she told the Sunday Standard.
A senior immigration officer is understood to have refused the Permanent Secretary access into his locked office.
While the officers were still reeling from the Permanent Secretary’s surprise visit, police and intelligence officers launched a surprise raid, detaining scores of officers and confiscating incriminating evidence. By the end of the day, a number of immigration officials, including the deputy district immigration officer and some independent consultants, found themselves behind bars. After grueling interrogations, more arrests were made and some of the suspect spent up to 2 nights in police cells.
This followed months of clandestine investigations by intelligence officials.
A senior immigration officer is reported to have been caught red handed with around two independent consultants who are allegedly his partners in crime. The syndicate was caught in possession of a number of passports. It is understood that intelligence officers had been keeping tabs on the senior immigration official following a tip off from his colleagues.
By the close of business on Tuesday, a number of officers and independent consultants were being interrogated at the central police station. It is understood that some have decided to turn state witnesses against the senior immigration officers and his cronies.
There have also been reports of passports mysteriously disappearing at the Francistown immigration office.